Our guest post today comes from Peanut Butter or Jelly author and San Francisco mother of two, Deborah Kelson. Deb discovered a few ways to get kids voting.
No matter your politics, voting matters.
How do we talk about voting with minors who aren’t allowed to vote yet? As parents, how can we get them involved?
I came up with three ways to create experiences for kids to vote firsthand. I want them counting down the days until their 18th birthday with the same enthusiasm they have for their 21st. Voting is a big responsibility… and it’s also a right that the majority of Americans take for granted.
1. Have a family vote
Give your kids a voice in your family and let them decide what they want to vote on. Perhaps it’s something small, like what’s for dinner on Friday night. Or perhaps something bigger like where to go on vacation. Create opportunities for them to campaign for their candidates and discuss pros and cons of all issues. Just be ready to honor whatever wins the majority of votes!
2. Take a poll
Encourage your kid(s) to come up with a question and have them tally the results. Sample questions could be: Should kids be allowed to stay up late on the weekends? How many times a week should kids get dessert? Once they decide on the topic, help them prepare materials to share with voters. Survey friends at school, family members, people in the neighborhood, count the votes, and share the results.
3. Participate in alternative November election for kids
As the mom of two young children, I wanted to inspire my kids to really care about voting and standing up for what they believe in.
I took a break from work to pursue a creative project and came up with an idea that struck a nerve with the single-digit set: Why is a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich called Peanut Butter & Jelly and not Jelly & Peanut Butter?
I ended up writing a children’s book and here’s the hook: when the characters in the book can’t reach a compromise, they ask kids to go online and vote for their sandwich name. I have been pleasantly surprised by how passionate kids are about voting when they can relate to the concepts and subject matter, such as fairness and taking turns.
And to honor this passion, a winner of the sandwich-naming contest will be declared November 2016. Will the traditional Peanut Butter retain pole position or will the challenger Jelly upset the incumbent?
If your kids vote in this very important election, we’ll be all be on pins and needles awaiting election results November 8.
Peanut Butter or Jelly polls will be open online through November 8. Kids can do research by reading Peanut Butter or Jelly or watching the video above.
According to the Census Bureau, only 41.2% of 18-24 year-olds voted in 2012, down from 48.5% in 2008. Voting young does a lot of great things: it creates a sense of belonging, starts to form a good lifelong habit, and even increases overall family voting participation. Please join me in raising voters!
Thanks, Deb! Deborah Kelson’s book Peanut Butter or Jelly was crowdfunded using Kickstarter, where it was selected as a Staff Pick, and sold about 1,000 copies in 30 days. She works in marketing at a startup by day and answers sandwich-related fan mail by night. My own children voted — one for Peanut Butter and one for Jelly — at peanutbutterorjelly.com and have been eagerly awaiting the election results for months.